Gemini Duo 7 3G tablet review

Gemini is a fairly new name in Android tablets, seeking to conquer the budget corner of the market. The JoyTab Duo 7 3G gives away plenty of clues in its name about its specifications. See also Archos 80 Titanium review.

Most noticeably, it has a 7in screen. There are also no prizes for guessing what the 3G suffix means: a SIM slot means you can stay connected on the move. Since you can make phone calls, technically the Duo 7 3G is a phablet, although it's really too big to hold against your ear. See also Amazon Kindle Fire HD review.

This makes it one of the cheapest 3G-capable tablets and you might be surprised that it also packs 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and front and rear cameras. See also: Lenovo IdeaTab A2107A review - a 3G Android tablet for £150.

Gemini JoyTab Duo 7 3G: Design and build quality

Specifications alone don't make for a great tablet, though. Had we not seen the Archos 80 Titanium recently, the Gemini would have made a far better initial impression on us.Joytab Duo 7 3G

Unfortunately, the all-plastic construction lends a 'cheap' feel, which isn't helped by the fake-carbon-fibre back panel with its odd chrome-effect raised insert. Instead of adding style, it makes the JoyTab appear tacky.

The speaker grilles and buttons also look and feel cheap, and the theme continues with flimsy rubber covers over the SIM and microSD slots. At the top is a standard headphone socket which looks as though its off-centre placement is a mistake rather than intentional.

Joytab Duo 7 3G rubber coversJoytab Duo 7 3G headphone socket

Below the screen are four touch-sensitive buttons, menu, home, back and search. We've never been big fans of such buttons and, on the JoyTab, they can be frustrating as your thumb tends to activate them when holding the tablet in landscape mode. We accidentally tapped the back button far too many times during testing.

The final gripe is that there's a proprietary dock connector, meaning you need to carry the bundled cable around in order to charge the JoyTab (but at least it will charge over USB). Unlike most budget tablets, there's no HDMI output, nor any USB connectors.

Gemini JoyTab Duo 7 3G: Software

Unlike some of Gemini's other tablets, the Duo 7 3G runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich rather than Jelly Bean, but an update is said to be coming soon.

Unusually, the home screen is fixed in portrait mode, so the JoyTab acts like a giant Android phone. Indeed, the sample we were sent had a shortcut to the dialler prominently on the home screen, but you're unlikely to want to use the Duo 7 3G as your main phone.  However, if you buy a hands-free headset, it could double as a phone if you can live with the size and can't afford to buy both a phone and a tablet (or an Asus Fonepad).

You get access to the Google Play store for apps, music, books, magazines, movies and TV shows, but there's no extra software or customisation beyond Gemini's updater app.

Gemini JoyTab running ICS

Gemini JoyTab Duo 7 3G: Performance

Thanks to a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, the Duo 7 3G is pretty nippy and although we saw a bit of stuttering between home screens to start with, that disappeared and our experience was surprisingly smooth. The web browser loads pages quickly and there's no sluggishness when scrolling up and down.

Thanks to Flash support, you can watch videos on the main YouTube site, and other Flash-based sites are displayed properly.
If you're after numbers, we recorded an average of 2107ms in SunSpider (a slow result, but one that didn't translate to slow web browsing), and in Geekbench, the Duo 7 3G managed an average of 925.

This is also a fairly poor result but as we've said, the JoyTab doesn't feel slow in general use.

One area where the Duo 7 3G isn't great is 3D gaming. A result of 3.5fps in GLBenchmark is very poor, so don't expect to play anything beyond casual games such as Angry Birds on the JoyTab.

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